About this Research Topic
The occurrence of new and emerging plant fungal infections is on the rise but has gone unnoticed because of inadequate detection methods. This alarming increase in novel and emerging pathogens can be attributed to a combination of geographic expansion, climate change, modified land use and the increased use of immunosuppressive and antifungal drugs in agricultural practices. Emerging fungal pathogens are an increasing threat for the ecosystems, global health, food security and world economy. Emerging plant pathogenic fungi have not been widely recognized as posing major threats to health despite their significant devastating impact on economically important crops because of lack of identification methods. There is published evidence that common saprophytic fungi, such as Cryptococcus, Aspergillus and Penicillium species are emerging now as potential plant pathogens and the latter can represent major threats to staple crops such as rice, wheat, maize and potatoes either during cultural practices or during the post-harvest/storage stages. If these pathogens are not detected on time and targeted disease-management strategies are not put in place, global food security will be dramatically affected.
To be able to detect and identify plant pathogens from a scientific perspective, new molecular methods including DNA based phylogenetic approaches and fingerprinting approaches have been developed for the rapid detection and identification of fungal pathogens, especially emerging ones. Novel molecular methods will undoubtedly strengthen our ability to distinguish between previously identified and novel pathogenic species. But most importantly, they will assist us to develop more reliable and effective control measures to emerging uncharacterized pathogenic species. These new methods primarily based on PCR and amplification of DNA fragments of a wide array of genes coupled with multigene phylogeny have contributed significantly to more accurate detection method as well as enable plant pathologists to design specific primers and barcodes. In addition, the use of molecular dating based on DNA sequence data is also useful to better understand evolutionary trajectories of emerging plant pathogens.
This Research Topic aims to compile papers on new and emerging fungal plant pathogens, especially in connection to their characterization based on polyphasic approaches, their functional roles in diseases, taxonomy, phylogeny, evolution and other related aspects that would enable plant pathologists to gain better insights into their lifestyle, identification, phylogeny, host association and evolution. Both Reviews and Original Research articles will be welcomed
Keywords: Emerging Plant Diseases, Evolution, Novel Fungal Pathogens, Phylogeny, Taxonomy
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